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Wednesday, 01 July 2015

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Nearly 3,000 in Cumbria receive help from new hardship programme

NEARLY 3,000 people have been helped through a hardship programme in Cumbria in its first year.

Cumbria County Council’s Local Welfare Assistance programme supports vulnerable adults and families.

Data collected by the council shows that in its first 12 months - starting on April 1 2013 - it received 2,863 calls and signposted people to other agencies, including foodbanks, the Department for Work and Pensions, and money debt advice agencies.

With an average of 55 calls per week, the team found that the highest numbers were from residents in Carlisle (983) and Barrow (586).

Third highest is Allerdale (544), then Copeland (325), fifth is South Lakeland (248), and finally Eden (177).

51 per cent of callers were referred to foodbanks and 39 per cent to the DWP for short term advances or budgeting loans. 490 (17 per cent) of callers had children under the age of 16

Financial assistance was given to 1,635 people including help with the following: energy bills - 951; food (where foodbank unavailable) - 265; toiletries - 77; and baby essentials - 26.

The total amount of financial assistance granted to individuals as a result of a call to the team was £55,074.

Elsewhere £10,000 has been allocated to assist the development support linked to children centres and foodbanks; £71,100 to support a countywide winter warmth programme; and £61,463 via one-off grants to local community services.

Councillor Patricia Bell, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for welfare, said: “This programme is clearly a lifeline for many people who are in severe hardship, but as well as helping with an immediate crisis, the programme provides support to deal with the root cause of a problem.

“For eight in ten people the reasons why they called the programme in the first place had not reoccurred. This fact alone shows the value of the service.”

If any resident of Cumbria believes they are in crisis, access to the the council's support and advice programme can be made through the website at www.cumbria.gov.uk/welfare or by telephoning 01228 221100.

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